The Premier League (PL) will request a court order demanding that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) block a football website which allows users to view subscription-based matches for free.
The proposed injunction relates to Swedish football streaming website FirstRow1.eu and it is hoped it will be in place for next season.
If successful, it will be the first sports related site block in the UK but, nonetheless, lawyers have said they are “unsurprised” by the Premier League’s decision.
Adam Rendle, associate at Taylor Wessing LLP, said the Premier League had been a “victim” of unauthorised sources for a long time.
“Websites such as these cut across the monetisation of broadcasting rights and there are lots of other kinds of these sites out there. It was only a matter of time before they attempted to block one of them," he said.
The PL’s move comes at a time when ISPs are frequently faced with more requests to block access to piracy sites.
Both the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have recently called on ISPs to block access to music and movie downloading services such as Fenopy, Kicksass Torrents and The Pirate Bay.
Rendle continued: “The BPI and MPAA set a precedent when they obtained blocking orders, so it is not surprising that the Premier League has followed suit.”
The order would force leading ISPs in Britain, including BT, to cut off access to the site. BT recently shelled out £246m for the right to show Premier League football next season.
When contacted by WIPR, a BT spokesperson said: “BT will only block access to websites for online copyright infringement when ordered by a court.”
Daniel Byrne, associate at law firm Bristows, echoed BT’s claims and said ISPs generally would be reluctant to remove or block websites unless instructed to do so by the courts.
He said: “ISPs will often state they are unable to remove or block a website unless ordered to do so, as they are not in a position to assess the allegations made about content and what is, and what isn’t, infringing copyright.
“In addition, they might be concerned that such unilateral removal or blocking might involve a breach of their agreements with customers and service users, and open the floodgates to numerous notifications of infringement with associated monitoring costs.”
He added: “Although BT might be said to have an added interest in complying with the order, given its recent successful bid to show live Premier League games, most ISPs would anyway be unlikely to object to the court granting such an order and be willing to comply. Oversight by a court ensures transparency and accountability."
This article was first published on 25 June 2013 in World IP Review
premier league, isps, firstrow1.eu, bpi, mpaa